There comes a certain point in human lives when we think that we are in sole possession of the “right” outlook on life. People younger than us haven’t lived as long, haven’t seen what we’ve seen. Those older than us don’t understand how the world has changed and haven’t changed with it. An older person’s attitude to mental health may seem unenlightened to us because we expect them to be more conservative.
What we sometimes don’t grasp is that they do understand mental health issues and know a bit more about avoiding them. Consumer debt totals keep rising pretty much worldwide; certainly in the West, anyway. We’ve become almost comfortable with a “manageable” amount of personal debt. The older you get, the less likely you are to be okay with it, though, and there are signs that the seniors have it right.
Debt Is Linked To Mental Health Issues: If you looked through your accounts and found that you owed more than you thought, but weren’t at risk of default, would you be okay with that? And when I say “okay” I don’t mean “could you push it to the back of your mind for the moment?”. We know it’s there, but it’s inconvenient. So we end up resolving to get it sorted out later. There’s always a later. And though you may think it’s locked up safely in the back of your mind, the door is wide open. Though you may not perceive it, the stress is there.
Why The Seniors May Have It Right: Young adults and those in their thirties and forties have an attitude to debt that has arisen with the greater availability of it. On one hand you always know someone worse off than yourself. On the other hand there is the fact that if you’re managing it now, it’s easy to think a little more won’t hurt.
Here it is useful to think of the boiling frog theory. If you put a frog into boiling water, it will instantly leap out. Of course it will, it’s too hot. But if you put a frog in cold or lukewarm water, and gradually increase the heat, it will stay in there until it is boiled to death*. Debt can be like that – you don’t perceive it as a problem until it quite clearly and damagingly is. Because older people are less conditioned to be okay with debt, they’re less likely to borrow. They’re also more likely to refuse to take on any more debt.
What Should You Do About It? If you look at your accounts and your debt is above what you earn in a year, consider homeowner loans. These may allow you to consolidate all your debt into a single payment which will be more manageable than all the smaller ones. Having it all in the one place also makes you less likely to overlook a payment and get landed with fees and charges.
Secondly, if you feel swamped by debt payments, speak to someone about it. In the first instance, a parent is the right person to speak to. They can bring a steadier perspective to the issue which will help you see it less as a tidal wave and more as an issue to be overcome. Debt need never be a terminal problem. It can be highly inconvenient. However, if you’ve made the mistake of over-extending your borrowing, don’t compound it by panicking. All this will do is increase the stress you are trying to banish.
*Don’t worry – this has been tested by scientists and it has been established that a frog will jump out if the water gets too hot. People in a certain amount of debt may not be so proactive, though. 🙂
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